Number of Rooms:
Downtown Las Vegas
12 Ogden Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89101
$50 and up double
$50-$75 per night
Solid and dependable lodging, unique atmosphere, low cost.
A few steps off the beaten path.
Close to all the downtown action.
You can find some bargains here.
When rooms are cheap, you get a good deal.
Fairly standard but nice.
Not usually too crowded, colorful Hawaiian theme.
Missing a few niceties but not many.
No real entertainment offerings, small pool, but still good.
Amusing but not flat out fun.
A nice place, worth a few extra points.
The California is an easily overlooked Downtown property with a very specific niche market. Despite the name, The Cal, as it is affectionately known has a Hawaiian theme, going back to the days when Sam Boyd ran the joint and brought some of the flair from his favorite state to the Las Vegas desert. A marketing effort was born and today many of the people who stay here are from Hawaii.
The overlooked part comes mainly from location. Since it's not right on the Fremont Street Experience people tend to forget it's there, which is too bad because walk one block and you'll find a well-tended, unique property that can provide plenty of bargains in just about every category.
The bulk of the hotel got a makeover in 2016 and 2017, which makes it a little bit more competitive with some of the newer places in Vegas. It's nice, but still not the kind of hotel that you're going to take pictures of to send back to your friends at home in order to make them jealous.
The casino is small but well laid out, with all the latest machines making their arrivals to keep the place up to date - more than 1,100 of them total. They also have all of the standard table games, a keno lounge, and a small sports book. The atmosphere as a whole is quieter than at many casinos so this may be a good place to keep in mind if you need to gamble without all of the din usually associated with such a space.
There are two towers offering a total of 781 rooms, all of which fall into the "nice" but not luxurious category, with cozy furnishings, comfortable beds, and all of the basic amenities you could want (although fancier stuff like robes and high-end amenities are not offered). There two flavors - the "Premium" rooms, which came with the recent makeover and feature simple and modern furnishings, new bathroom fixtures, and a general sense of spiffiness since they haven't been too used yet. The older "Deluxe" rooms are still nice, just perhaps a little more lived in.
The bathrooms are very small so I hope you're on good terms with whomever you are sharing your room with. But again, it's all a matter of proportional comparison. These are no smaller than what you'd expect at most chain motels but when you stack them next to the bathrooms at Strip resorts, which are often nicer than my apartment as a whole, these suffer a bit.
There are several restaurants on site including a 24-hour café, a noodle house, an upscale (yet inexpensive) steak and seafood type establishment, and a snack bar but no buffet. That's okay, you can go across the street to Main Street Station for one of the best buffets in town.
There are only a few hotels in the Downtown area that have pools and The California is one of them. It's not much to get excited about - small and simple but adequate if what you need is a quick dip or a bake in the sun.
Service throughout the hotel is exceptionally friendly, a hallmark of most Downtown properties and especially the ones in the Boyd Gaming chain. It's quite a nice change of pace from the brusque attitude you get at the fancier joints.
The price is where you really start to get excited about staying here. Not only are they one of the few hotels in Vegas that doesn't charge a resort fee, I've seen room rates as low as $35 a night here. That's an almost crazy bargain when you consider that you're getting nice rooms, terrific service, and a good location with easy access to Downtown and the freeway to The Strip.